My Coca-Cola Relapse

How much cola have I consumed in my life? Thousands of gallons I’d guess. Not to mention the huge quantities of other soda varieties that have passed through my body. But cola always was my favorite. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, RC Cola, store brands – I proudly and happily drank them all. Over time, Coke became my top cola choice.

My cola habit was strong in my teens and went up some notches in my early 20s. But it ended in my mid-40s when I gave up cola and other sodas. All of that sugar for so many years, combined with sad dental hygiene, had made a mess of my teeth and gums. I needed to stop drinking the stuff, and it’s a good thing that my willpower was strong enough to follow through. I didn’t switch to diet sodas because I’ve never liked the taste of artificial sweeteners.

The scene of my relapse
The scene of my relapse

But cola is back in my life. Coca-Cola, to be precise. Its return began not long ago at a pizza place I’ve been going to for a couple of years, Tony Roni’s. Roni’s resides at a remarkably congested and dangerous road intersection in Willow Grove, PA, not far from Philadelphia. Customers might somewhat put their lives in jeopardy to visit Roni’s, but that doesn’t keep them away. And that includes me.

I love pizza, especially the more traditional and unadulterated types, but I can’t find many by-the-slice places that make it the way I prefer: crisp charred crust, sweet tomato sauce, good quality cheese and not an overload of it nor of oil. Tony Roni’s traditional pies seem to vary in quality from visit to visit. They are not too bad overall, but in a better world they consistently would be less floppy and oily. So, a bit frustrated, last year I started ordering slices of Roni’s tomato pie instead. It’s a pizza variety I had rarely had before. They do a nice job with tomato pie, its underside heat-darkened, the crushed tomatoes ripe with good flavor, very little oil, a dusting of cheese. The crust could be better, but what the heck.

Initially I drove to Tony Roni’s once every two or three weeks and, for various reasons, most frequently on Wednesdays. Wednesday is the one day when they offer a free fountain soda to anyone who buys two pizza slices. For a long time I rejected the free drink. After much cavity filling and periodontal work, my teeth and gums have been pretty good for quite awhile now, so why press my luck? But the lure of Tony Roni’s free soda must have been nibbling at my subconscious. Earlier this year my resistence grew thin. Paying for two slices on a January Wednesday I said “oh well” to myself and accepted the cashier’s proferred paper soda cup. Off I went to the soda dispenser and allowed six or so ounces of Coca-Cola to descend. I took a seat, took a sip, and was in heaven. Coke is heaven. I knew that all along.

Since then, my trips to Tony Roni’s have been almost weekly, and exclusive to Wednesdays. Each time I buy two slices of pie, usually tomato pie, and savor about six ounces of free Coke. I try very hard not to drink more Coke than that. So far I’ve been successful. And when I get home from my pizza and soda outings I brush my teeth. Coke is delicious. Dental work isn’t.

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